Leader’s Speech to Cabinet Members

The following is the full text of the speech delivered on October 9, 2005 by Ayatollah Khamenei the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, in a meeting with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his cabinet members.

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

It is customary for us during the month of Ramadan to benefit from the sermons and recommendations in Nahjul Balaghah in the meetings that I arrange with our government officials. This is because all of us are in need of these recommendations. In particular, people like us need these recommendations more than ordinary citizens because we can benefit from them at a personal level - for the sake of our hearts and our relationship with God and in order to maintain our humility, which is necessary for carrying out our responsibilities in an appropriate way - and also because each one of us in this gathering are shouldering important responsibilities in managing the country. Moreover, a comprehensive understanding of Imam Ali's (a.s.) view of large-scale national issues can be gleaned from his sermons and recommendations. It is true that many of these teachings are based on technical issues, but what a person can gain by studying the sermons and recommendations of the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) normally affects one's heart more than the commentaries that has been written on Nahjul Balaghah. Therefore, over the years, in my meetings with our government officials, I have always selected and discussed points from Nahjul Balaghah which are related to the issues we are faced with. I will do the same today.

Before I recite sentences from Nahjul Balaghah - all of which have been selected out of the Commander of the Faithful's (a.s.) decree to Malek al-Ashtar - I would like to briefly discuss two, three points. The first point is that we must never give in to illusions of being immune to deviation. That is to say, nobody should think: "We are clearly moving forward on the right divine path and we will not deviate from this path." No, there is no such immunity to deviation. Everybody is likely to slip and deviate from the right path. Also, everybody has access to the means of avoiding this deviation. In other words, there is no way we can say a particular person will slip and deviate from this path. No, one can continue following this path without deviation. However, it cannot be guaranteed that deviation will be avoided, so one cannot afford to rest comfortably and let down one's guard. Neither side of this issue should be disregarded.

What is the means of preventing this deviation? Being careful about one's actions. It is necessary to be cautious. If we watch our actions, we will not deviate from the right path. But if we fail to do so, we will suffer from deviation either because of weakness in one's ideological principles or because of our human passions. Even in the case of those who enjoy firm beliefs, human passions might dominate their deep-rooted, correct and rational outlook on the path and the goals, causing them to deviate from the right path. We have seen examples of such people.

In this regard, there are several ayahs in the Holy Quran, but the ayah about the Battle of Uhud is very moving: "(As for) those of you who turned back on the day when the two armies met, only Satan sought to cause them to make a slip on account of some deeds they had done." [The Holy Quran, 3: 155] That is to say, those who suffered from that tragic slip in the Battle of Uhud and left their positions, causing all that damage to the newly-formed forces of Islam and Islamic government, it was because of "some deeds they had done". The defeat was due to what they had done. Being attached to one's human passions reveals its effects on such occasions.

There is another holy ayah which says that they had been told to make charitable donations, but that they had refused to do what they had promised and so hypocrisy took over their hearts: "So He made hypocrisy to follow as a consequence into their hearts till the day when they shall meet Him because they failed to perform towards Allah what they had promised with Him and because they told lies." [The Holy Quran, 9: 77] That is to say, when a person disregards his promises to God, hypocrisy finds its way into his heart. Therefore, if we fail to be careful and give in to our human passions and carnal desires, our religious faith and our wisdom are subdued and our human passions take over. Then the kind of deviation that we were afraid of might happen. Therefore, one must always assume that it is possible to slip. Nobody should think that he is unlikely to suffer from this deviation.
In this regard, one example is the case of Bal'am Baura: "And recite to them the narrative of him to whom We give Our communications, but he withdraws himself from them, so Satan overtakes him, so he is of those who go astray." [The Holy Quran, 7: 175]

The second point is that if we want to minimize the likelihood of slipping in our positions of responsibility, we should not feel annoyed when we are faced with benevolent criticisms. This is one way to ensure avoidance of deviation. Of course, there are always certain ill-wishers who offer different kinds of praise and criticism and are not afraid of spreading rumors, causing psychological warfare and telling lies about different people. In the case of such people, one may feel annoyed at heart, but one must not feel annoyed at those who have no intentions of being hostile or spiteful despite their annoying and critical tone. Similarly, one must not rely on the soft and pleasant comments that are made by sycophants. If we pay attention to this point, I believe we will benefit a lot.

The third point is that these recommendations are addressed to Malek al-Ashtar and you see that there are unpleasant and critical comments among them. The Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) makes certain recommendations which are very critical and unpleasant. In fact, if somebody offers such recommendations to us, we might feel a little annoyed. Malek al-Ashtar is the same person who is described in another decree in the following way: "There is no risk of laziness or lethargy from him."
Malek is described as a person who would never give in to lethargy. "... [N]or of nervousness and blunders nor of any error of commission and omission." He is described as a person who is never slow when there is a need for swift decisions and as a person who never makes hasty decisions in the case of matters that require calm and carefulness. In other words, Malek al-Ashtar is described as a person who watches his actions and is also wise and knowledgeable, a person who does not hurry when haste should be avoided and who does not fail to take action whenever there is a need for swift action. This is how the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) describes Malek al-Ashtar in his decree to two commanders of the Battle of Siffin.

I have selected other sentences from the letter to Malek al-Ashtar. This is one of the sentences I have selected: "Never say to yourself, ‘I am their Lord, their ruler and all in all over them and that I must be obeyed submissively and humbly' because such a thought will unbalance your mind." He warns Malek al-Ashtar that just because he has been entrusted with a responsibility, he should not expect others to submissively obey every order he gives. The Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) stresses that Malek must never act like that. Expecting others to listen to one's orders without asking questions simply because one is entrusted with a responsibility, will only corrupt one's heart. "[It] will weaken your faith in religion." That is to say, it weakens the spirit of piety. "... [A]nd will make you seek support of any power other than that of Allah." This attitude brings one closer to unwanted changes. Arrogance and believing that nobody should go against one's orders are among the things that bring one closer to change, change that is unfavorable and unwanted. That is to say, it undermines one's authority takes away one's opportunities for rendering services.

This is another sentence from the same letter to Malek al-Ashtar: "So far as your own affairs or those of your relatives and friends are concerned, take care that you do not violate the duties laid down upon you by Allah and do not usurp the rights of mankind, be impartial and do justice to them." Malek is told to avoid usurping the rights of the people and to feel responsible towards his divine duties. He is told that he should not think he has completely fulfilled his responsibility. He is asked to consider himself indebted to God at all times. As for the people, he is told not to "usurp the rights of mankind." He is asked to observe the rights of the people and to constantly consider himself as indebted to the people. Of course, this does not mean that Malek is asked to give up his rights even when he is subject to oppression and injustice. No, this is about the demands of the people. The people have certain demands, they make certain statements, they raise their voices and they sometimes shout at government officials. Take the case of an office where a group of clients have come together to make a demand. The official who is in charge in that office should not immediately think that those clients have been provoked to make uproar against him, thinking that he has done nothing wrong. No, the first thing that comes to his mind should be this: "They are making a legitimate demand and it is my responsibility to listen to them."

Therefore, Malek is asked to respect the rights of the people and to make his friends and relatives do the same. He is asked to demand the rights of the people from those who have his support. As a ruler, as the head of an organization or as a minister, when you support certain people, you definitely give them special privileges, which provides them with an opportunity to violate the rights of the people. For this reason, you must be careful.
In another part of this important decree, the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) says: "You must always appreciate and adopt a policy which is neither too severe nor too lenient, a policy which is based upon equity will be largely appreciated. Remember that the displeasure of common men, the have-nots and the depressed persons outweighs the approval of important persons, while the displeasure of a few big people will be excused by the Lord if the general public and the masses of your subjects are happy with you." The list of the things that one should do is very long and one will not have the time to get round to all of them. The Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) says that the best thing that can be done is to take two things into consideration.
First, priority should be given to what is moderate, the things that are neither too severe nor too lenient. After all, this is a defining characteristic of truth: it is not at an extreme. Second, priority should be given to what is based on justice. The kind of justice that is born of such measures should affect a larger number of people. Sometimes a measure might be just, but it may only benefit a small number of people. Some other times, this is not the case. The measure that is adopted is wider in scope and affects a large number of people. The Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) says such measures should be preferred, which means that if one is forced to make a choice, one should choose the measures that affect a larger number of people. In other words, it is necessary to observe the priorities that we always stress and this is one standard to determine our priorities.
Another standard is that the policy which is chosen should satisfy one's subjects. "Subjects" means the same thing as "the people", namely the ones whose rights must be observed. Despite what some people believe, the word "subject" is not offensive. It refers to people whose rights must be observed, namely, ordinary citizens. The words "people" and "subjects" are often used to refer to ordinary citizens, not people with special privileges. The Commander of the Faithful (a.s.), the Holy Prophet (s.w.a.) and the Holy Quran have placed special emphasis on ordinary citizens, whom we refer to as "the people".

In the contemporary world, political personalities are opposed to engaging ordinary citizens in political and social issues and they refer to this as populism. It would be too optimistic to think that we can choose a group of people who enjoy special privileges and put them in charge of decision-making and rendering services to the people. It is absolutely wrong to think that people who enjoy special privileges could be put in charge of decision-making, rendering services, appointments and dismissals and can be trusted to step aside in a pious way and let sources of wealth be distributed among the people. We have seen that this is not the case. Our experience tells us that this is absolutely naïve. For this reason, in Imam Ali's (a.s.) school of thought, the emphasis is placed on ordinary citizens. People and groups that enjoy special privileges and a special position in society, are not credible. This is not to say that they should be oppressed. No, they should be treated the way ordinary citizens are treated because they are not special from an Islamic point of view. For this reason, the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) says that a good policy is one that satisfies one's subjects. It is necessary to work towards satisfaction of the people.

The reasoning that Imam Ali (a.s.) presents is very interesting. He says: "Usually these special people are mentally the scum of the human society." The standard that has to be taken into consideration is satisfaction or dissatisfaction of ordinary citizens. Why? Because if ordinary citizens are dissatisfied, this will overshadow the satisfaction of groups that enjoy special privileges. A government might be supported by so-called intellectuals and outstanding political personalities, yet ordinary citizens might be dissatisfied with it. The fact that ordinary citizens are dissatisfied with that government renders the satisfaction of outstanding personalities insignificant, and we saw that this happened.

The opposite is also true: "The displeasure of a few big people will be excused by the Lord if the general public and the masses of your subjects are happy with you." The Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) says that if ordinary citizens are satisfied, dissatisfaction of groups with special privileges is forgivable. That is to say, dissatisfaction of such people is not very important and so it is necessary to go after satisfying ordinary citizens. There is a wisdom to what the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) has said. These things have been visible and tangible to us over the time we have been involved in running the country. "They are the people who will be the worst drag upon you during your moments of peace and happiness, and the least useful to you during your hours of need and adversity, they hate justice the most, they will keep on demanding more and more out of the state resources and will seldom be satisfied with what they receive and will never be obliged for the favor shown to them if their demands are justifiably refused, they will never accept any reasonable excuse or any rational argument and when the time changes, you will never find them staunch, faithful and loyal."

Groups that enjoy special privileges are always a source of trouble. First of all, during times of peace and prosperity, they have the highest expectations of their rulers. They expect their rulers to give them different things. During times of peace and prosperity, when there is security and no war and problem, these groups often impose the highest expenses on their government. I am saying "often" because of my weakness, but this is not the case with the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.). He is very decisive in this regard: "[They are] the least useful to you during your hours of need and adversity." Such people offer the least amount of assistance during times of difficulty. For example, when a war breaks out, when there is insecurity and when enemies carry out an attack, such groups disappear and few of them remain in the arena. "They hate justice the most." They are dissatisfied with justice more than everybody else. They are the ones who hate justice and equity more than everybody else. "They will keep on demanding more and more out of the state resources." They insist on their demands more than everybody else. Of course, ordinary citizens also write letters and demand certain things. One may fulfill their demands when it is possible to do so. One may also resist when it is not possible to meet their demands. Ordinary citizens will not insist that that their demands be fulfilled. However, groups that enjoy special economic and political privileges will keep insisting and they will never give up. They will insist so much that their demands are finally fulfilled.

"[They] will seldom be satisfied with what they receive and will never be obliged for the favor shown to them." Such people are the least grateful when a favor is granted on them, as if the favor was their birthright. They do not show any gratitude. This is not the case with ordinary citizens. When you build a small school in an underprivileged part of the country, they pray for you, they treat you kindly and they show their gratitude. In contrast, outstanding personalities show the least gratitude even if they are given the best available facilities. "[They] will never be obliged for the favor shown to them if their demands are justifiably refused. They will never accept any reasonable excuse or any rational argument." When you refuse to meet their demands - even if you have a good excuse - they will not accept your excuse. "When the conditions change, you will never find them staunch, faithful and loyal." When problems come up, they are the least steadfast. If a natural or social calamity happens, they are the least patient people and they complain more than anybody else. They show impatience all the time. "While the common men, the poor and apparently the less important section of your subjects are the pillars of Islam, they are the real assemblage of Muslims and the power and defensive force against the enemies of Islam." The masses are the pillars of Islam. This is what the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) says. Even if this is populism, it is a kind of populism that is characteristic of Imam Ali's (a.s.) school of thought, a kind of populism that we respect and hold sacred. Ordinary people are the ones who will fight the enemy. "Keep your mind on their affairs, be friendlier with them and secure their trust and goodwill." Malek al-Ashtar is asked to develop a general inclination towards the masses.

Of course, as I pointed out earlier, it should be kept in mind that things must be "neither too severe nor too lenient". Considering the complexity of social and economic issues in today's world, finding a middle course requires subtle work. As a minister or a manager, you should be able to do your work in a subtle way so that justice, satisfaction of the masses and moderation are all ensured. Also, your work should not go against the accurate calculations one has to carry out as a result of the complexity of social and economic relations in the contemporary world. Make sure you pay attention to this subtlety.

Of course, the Commander of the Faithful's (a.s.) letter to Malek al-Ashtar is very long. I assume you are familiar with it. For many years, me and other government officials have made repeated references to the letter.

"Then observe the work of the officials of your government." This is another sentence from the letter. Imam Ali (a.s.) asks Malek to keep an eye on the work of the officials that work for his government. The first thing that has to be taken into consideration is to "put them to the test". Malek is asked to test his subordinates and see who is more qualified. In other words, the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) recommends that what we know as "meritocracy" should receive genuine attention. "These appointments must be made originally on probation without any kind of favoritism being shown or influence being accepted." Malek is asked to avoid basing his decisions on friendship and ignoring the standards. We must not choose certain people simply because they are our friends. Similarly, such decisions must not be based on self-centeredness. One must not insist on a particular person without observing the standards and without consulting experts.

Then the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) mentions the characteristics of such officials. For example, he says that they should be experienced and modest. He also says: "Keep them also well-paid." Once a good person has been appointed to a position of responsibility, it is necessary to provide what he needs. I have always told our government officials and I would like to repeat in this meeting that you should constantly supervise your subordinates. You should never neglect observing their actions. You have seen guards constantly pointing their flashlights in different directions at night in order to observe everything. You should act in the same way and you should constantly observe everything. Therefore, you must not neglect observing the work of your subordinates. "Then keep a careful watch over their system of work and rule." That is to say, it is necessary to see whether or not they are doing their responsibility, whether or not they are doing their responsibility in the right way, and whether or not they are committing any offences. "You may also appoint trustworthy and honest men to keep a watch over the activities of these officers." It is necessary to ask trustworthy people to watch their actions. "The knowledge that they are being watched secretly will keep them away from dishonesty, misrule, malpractice and tyrannizing the subjects." Awareness of the fact that they are being watched will cause them to pay more attention to codes of conduct.

Then he says: "If you find any of them dishonest and your confidential intelligence service submits acceptable proofs of his dishonesty, you must punish him." If it is proven that somebody has been dishonest, he must be punished. This does not mean that as soon as there is a report about the dishonesty of a certain government official, he should be punished immediately. No, there should be various reports that point in the same direction. That is to say, everything should be completely clear and there should be numerous unquestionable reports that he had been dishonest. It is proven that he has been dishonest, then the punishment "may be corporal punishment besides dismissal from service and taking back from him all which he has dishonestly collected. He must be humiliated and must be made to realize the infamy of his wicked deeds." Of course, there are different forms of punishment and there are various requirements. It is necessary to punish them in an appropriate way.

Because the letter is long, we have no choice but to select certain parts of it for our discussion. I have selected the parts that I believe are more important. "Beware and do not develop the trait of self-admiration and self-appreciation." Malek is warned to beware against self-admiration. The Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) warns against this danger. Sometimes people observe certain advantages in themselves. For example, they notice that they are intelligent, that they are physically strong, that they have superior intellectual abilities, that they are well-read, that they are eloquent, that they have a good voice, that they are beautiful. As soon as you realize that you are suffering from self-admiration - that is to say, the moment you realize that your advantages have made you blind to your flaws - you should know that you are faced with a danger.

This is what the Commander of the Faithful warns against. You might say: "I have noticed that I have certain advantages. What do I do?" For example, you might say: "I was the top student in a particular program" or "I had outstanding performance in a particular area. What am I supposed to do? Should I ignore the advantage that I enjoy?" The answer is: no, you should recognize the advantages that you enjoy, but you should also recognize the numerous flaws and weaknesses that you suffer from. Incorrect self-evaluation is what makes people obsessed with themselves. We normally see our strengths, but fail to see bad and hateful things about ourselves. As a result, our self-evaluation gradually approaches the self-evaluation of those who suffer from self-admiration. This is problematic. Therefore, we should see both our strengths and our weaknesses. "Beware and do not develop the trait of self-admiration and self-appreciation." Do not develop faith in the characteristics that make you suffer from self-admiration. That is to say, do not be firmly convinced that you enjoy the characteristics you think you enjoy. Sometimes people think that they enjoy certain outstanding characteristics, but everything is just an illusion that they have about themselves. And this illusion is based on the fact that they have compared themselves with lowly people and have overrated themselves. This is while if they had compared themselves with other people, they would not have received a good score. Therefore, one should not be firmly convinced about the accuracy of one's self-evaluation.

"Do not let flattery and cajolery make you vain and egoist." The Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) advises against love of flattery. "Remember that of all the cunning ruses of the devil to undo good deeds of the pious people and to affect their piety, flattery and false praises are the ones on which it relies the most." Love of flattery provides Satan with the best opportunities. It gives Satan the opportunity to undo good deeds of pious people - that is to say, he takes away righteous deeds and spiritual beauties and ornaments.

The Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) raises another important point in the next sentence. "Do not boast of the favors and kindnesses that you have done to your subjects." Do not refer to what you do for the people as your favors to them. After all, it is your responsibility to render services to the people. If you have served the people, it just means that you have carried out your responsibility, so do not say that you are doing a favor to the people. "Do not think too much of the good that you have done to them." Do not magnify what you have done. Sometimes people do certain things and then they praise their actions in an exaggerated way. They make things look like several times more praiseworthy than they really are.

"And do not go back upon the promises made." Do not break your promises to the people. Follow up whatever you have promised to the people. In other words, you should feel committed to your promises. We should not give up easily and relieve ourselves of the responsibility. Rather, we should be persistent. Of course, there are certain times when emergencies come up, but that is a different issue. You should try as much as you can in order to keep your promises to the people and avoid referring to your services as favors that you have done to the people. "The practice of boasting over the favors done undoes the good done, and the habit of exaggerating and thinking very highly of our good actions will make us lose the guidance of Allah." Boasting about favors undoes one's good deeds and exaggeration kills the light of truth. "And the habit of breaking one's promises is disliked both by Allah and by man." Breaking one's promises causes one to fall from grace both with the people and with Allah the Exalted. "Do not be hasty and do not precipitate your decisions and actions, when the time comes for an action to be taken, or a decision to be made, then do not be lazy and do not waste time and do not show weakness." Do not do anything too soon and do not make hasty decisions.

In a sermon, the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) draws an analogy between haste and picking fruit before it is ripe. He says that a person who picks fruit too soon is like a person who cultivates another person's field - that is to say, he does not reap any benefits. If you cultivate a field that belongs to another person, that other person is the one who will benefit from your work and you will not benefit in any way. If you sow seeds in your own field, if you plant a sapling in your own field and tend to it, but you pick its fruit too soon when it produces fruit, all your efforts have in fact been wasted. This is how the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) explains haste and taking action when it is too soon.

In this letter, he warns against haste. However, "When the time comes for an action to be taken, or a decision to be made, then do not be lazy and do not waste time and do not show weakness." The Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) warns against negligence and putting things off when they should be done immediately. Therefore, both making hasty decisions and putting things off to a later time are prohibited. "When you do not find a true way to do the thing on hand, then do not persist on the wrong way." When it becomes clear that what you are doing is wrong, do not insist on doing it in a stubborn way. For example, imagine that we have put forth an idea, presented our arguments in support of it, followed it up and made efforts for it, but when other people express their opposition, we ignore them and continue with our work until we reach a point where we realize that what we have been doing is wrong. In such cases, you should announce that you were wrong and nothing is wrong with this. Therefore, you must not be obstinate when it becomes clear that what you have been doing is wrong. "And when you find a correct solution, then do not be lethargic in adopting it." When you realize that it is necessary to do something, then you must not show any negligence.

Now let me make a point about these days and nights. It is said that the month of Ramadan is the month of a divine feast and I would like to tell you dear brothers and sisters what could be expected to be offered in this feast. One of the things that is offered and people like you and I should benefit from it, is fasting. Another thing is the Holy Quran. The Holy Quran has been placed on this blessed table and we have been given more opportunities to recite it in the month of Ramadan than in any other month.

Another thing is prayers such as Dua Iftitah and Dua Abu Hamza. All of these things are the blessings that are offered at this divine feast. There are some people who are so much distracted by other things that they do not even notice these blessings. There are people who do not see the blessings of the month of Ramadan and they do not even remember that another month of Ramadan has passed them by. There are other people who see the blessings, but they do not have much time to spend in this divine feast because they are too busy with work and entertainment. They want to go after certain amusements. They have other things to do. They have to take care of their shop, their business, their worldly matters and their carnal desires. They do not have enough time to attend this divine feast and benefit from it. There are other people who realize that there is a divine feast and they attend it. They see the blessings and appreciate them, but they are easy to please. They feel satisfied once they have had only a few morsels of spiritual nourishment. They attend the feast for a few minutes and they leave. They do not stay and benefit from all the blessings. They stay for a moment and they leave. There are yet other people who are not interested in benefiting from the spiritual nourishment because they have already satisfied their appetite with useless things and they are not willing to benefit from the different kinds of interesting and beneficial nourishment that is offered in this divine feast.

Unlike these people, there are others who benefit from the blessings of this feast and their appetite is never satisfied because the nourishment is spiritual. Benefiting from this nourishment is a virtue because it leads to transcendence of the human soul. The more a person benefits from these blessings, the more spiritual transcendence he achieves and the closer he moves to the goals of creation.

This spiritual transcendence is different from material blessings. The purpose of material blessings is to enable human beings to satisfy their physical needs and to keep their bodies functioning. As far as material blessings are concerned, it is a mistake to have too much - it is wrong. But this is not the case with spiritual blessings because basically we have been created to achieve spiritual transcendence. Spiritual blessings make it possible and easier for us to achieve this spiritual transcendence. Therefore, we should try to benefit from them as much as we can.

In the case of certain pious and sincere people whose names we have heard, even when their actions are explained to us, we have difficulty understanding how they did those truly amazing things. Such people can wake up two, three hours before the dawn prayer and they can stay awake during the nights of Ramadan and shed tears. It has been said that when the late Mirza Javad Agha Maleki would wake up in the morning to perform wudu at a pool of water, he would look at the water and he would pray and shed tears. He would wash his face and continue shedding tears. He would look at the sky and he would pray and shed tears until he came to his prayer mat to perform midnight prayers in a characteristically enthusiastic, lively and energetic way. The same was true of the late Hajj Mirza Ali Agha Ghazi. We have heard certain things about his fasting, his attention to God, his divine remembrance and his praying. We cannot understand such things clearly, but they show us a clear path and we should make the best of this path.

The dear friends who have attended this meeting should not forget to recite the Holy Quran at all times, particularly during the month of Ramadan. The Holy Quran must not be eliminated from your life. Try as much as you can to make the Holy Quran part of your daily life. Recitation of the Holy Quran is beneficial only when it is accompanied by careful thinking and contemplation. A hurried and inattentive reading of the Holy Quran, without gaining an appropriate understanding of the meaning, is not what is meant by "reciting". This is not to say that such a reading is worthless. After all, the mere awareness that one is reading God's words creates a bond with God, which is valuable and nobody should prohibit such a reading. However, this is not the best or the recommended way to read the Holy Quran.

The best recitation is the kind of recitation that is accompanied by contemplation and comprehension of every word, which we believe is possible. It is possible to understand the meaning of the ayahs if you know the meaning of the Arabic words or consult dictionaries and reflect on the meaning and if you read the ayahs two, three, five times. Normally, such an understanding cannot be attained in other ways and it is mostly attained through contemplation. You should experience this for yourselves. For example, when you read ten related ayahs for the first time, you achieve one kind of understanding and when you read the same ayahs with more attention for the second, fifth or tenth time, you achieve a different understanding. That is to say, you achieve another level of consciousness. The more one reflects on the ayahs, the more one understands. And this is what we need.

My dear ones, many of the people whom we saw slipping, made those mistakes because they had failed to reflect on religion and Islamic teachings. They were simply performing certain religious rituals and shouting certain slogans. Everything was based on shallow emotions, with no deep roots in their hearts. For this reason, there were certain people in the past who were very enthusiastic and radical, but then they made a U-turn. During the early years after the Revolution, there were certain people who would easily and openly reject people like Shahid Beheshti and question their revolutionary credentials and their understanding of the Revolution and the path of Imam Khomeini (r.a.). I can provide specific examples in this regard and I am not making a general statement. After a while, these people changed so much that they started to reject the pillars of the Revolution and the Islamic Republic. Some of them, who were relatively honest, rejected the pillars openly and some others spoke in an indirect and hypocritical way against these pillars. Those of them who were more dishonest pretended to believe in the pillars while they had no such beliefs in their hearts. This was because they lacked a substantial and deep understanding of the principles. Of course, this is only one of the factors. Another factor is human passions, materialistic tendencies and other such things which affect even those who have achieved a deep understanding. There were many people among them who lacked a deep understanding and commitment. One of the ways in which one can achieve this ideological and intellectual depth is to develop a close bond with the Holy Quran. Therefore, you must make sure to reflect on the Holy Quran and to prevent it from being eliminated from your daily life.

There is another point which is related to the prayers we recite. Prayers that have been passed down through reliable sources contain many teachings which cannot be found anywhere else. One example is the prayers in Sahifa al-Sajjadiyya. In our religious sources, there are certain teachings that can only be found in Sahifa al-Sajjadiyya or in the written prayers from the infallible Imams (a.s.), and these teachings have been expressed in the form of prayers. This is not to say that they wanted to hide these teachings from us: it is just that the nature of these teachings requires that they should be expressed in the form of prayers and they cannot be expressed in another way. There are certain concepts that cannot be expressed except in the form of praying. For this reason, we can find few such teachings in narrations or even in Nahjul Balaghah. However, we see many examples of such teachings in Sahifa al-Sajjadiyya, Dua Kumayl, Dua Sha'baniyya, Imam Hussein's Dua Arafa, Imam Sajjad's Dua Arafa and Dua Abu Hamza Thumali.

Do not neglect these prayers. Pay attention to them and keep praying. You are shouldering heavy responsibilities and you have many enemies. You have many opponents. This has always been the case with Islamic governments. Since the victory of the Revolution, our newly-established administrations have been faced with opponents inside and outside the country. This is even more noticeable in the case of this administration, which has promoted clear slogans showing their commitment to the pillars of the Islamic Revolution. These enemies create a negative atmosphere against us. They spread rumors. They promote pessimism. They spread lies. They even resort to obstructionism in the arena of action.

Countering these efforts requires firm determination, determined action and tireless efforts. It also requires solemn praying, attention to God and seeking assistance from Him. If we ask Allah the Exalted for help and assistance, He will create a spirit of tirelessness among us. One of the great divine blessings is to be able to avoid exhaustion and impatience. On certain paths, sometimes a person might not lack strength or become exhausted, but he may suffer from spiritual exhaustion after a while. This spiritual exhaustion prevents one from achieving the goal. In order to prevent this spiritual exhaustion, which is sometimes more dangerous than physical exhaustion, it is necessary to pray to God for help and to remain hopeful about receiving divine assistance. Make sure you never stop praying for divine assistance. We are not dearer to God than those who served before us or those who will serve the country after us unless our performance is better and our religious faith is stronger than them. Pay attention to this point. If we pay more attention to piety, if we watch our action more closely, if we make more efforts, if we fulfill our responsibilities in a better way, if we respect the law more and if we move closer to these goals, we will be dearer to Allah the Exalted. Otherwise, things will be different. We should channel our efforts in this direction. We should take care to avoid the traps that others fell into. Anybody who falls into those traps will suffer from the same consequences and there will be no difference.

Dear God, make what we said and what we heard serve Your cause and attract Your satisfaction. Make what we said and heard affect our hearts - primarily my own heart and then the hearts of the honorable friends who have attended this meeting. Make these days and these hours a source of blessings - rather than a source of regret - for the Day of Judgment. Dear God, make the holy heart of the Imam of the Age (may our souls be sacrificed for his sake) happy and satisfied with us. Make the immaculate soul of our magnanimous Imam (r.a.) happy and satisfied with us. Make the pure souls of our honorable martyrs satisfied and happy with us, with our behavior and with our actions.

Greetings be upon you and Allah's mercy and blessings